An Emotional Journey

This is the year that I have decided to stop thinking about it and start doing it.

I have been toying with the idea about writing a book, for a while. Last year I even came up with an idea that I thought would be fun and started to write an outline. In December, however, as I was getting into a number of conversations about Cyber-Bullying (a subject which I am very passionate about), I realized that if I was going to write about something that involved Social Media, I should write about something that a lot of Social Media people don’t write about.

There are a number of books out there, about Cyber-Bullying, and many are very good. The one thing that stood out for me, however, was that none of them had even been written by people in my industry. Some were written by psychologist or mental health experts, some by educators and others by parents who have (or have lost) kids effected by Cyber-Bullying. Where are the ones that come from the view of people that live in the Social Media world and actually see what happens there, not after the fact, but when it is happening. Where are the people that follow the development of new apps and technology and know what kids are likely to pick up on and use.

Where are the ones that really know what it is like to be bullied, as a kid, in all it’s heart wrenching detail?

My journey began this month, as I wrote the preface and first chapter of to my first book. In it I went into my own experience of being bullied through my entire time in school. It forced me to relive and confront a time that was very difficult for me, remembering just how hard it was to, numerous time, just get up and go to school. It took a long time to get through that first chapter and I will probably have to re-visit again, with edits and additions. If there was anything good that came from writing it, it was a realization of how far I have come, from that time, to today, and that I survived.

photo 2As hard as that first chapter was, researching for the other chapters has been harder. I have been digging deeper into the apps that kids are using, today, to communicate and much of what I see makes me sad and scared. Reading posts on apps like Whisper, you realize just how many kids are screaming for help or just to have someone listen to them. This goes beyond teen angst or raging hormones. There are honest cries for help. Sadly, those who could really help do not see these posts, as they are not even aware that the app exists, let alone be aware that a child in their life is using it.

We read articles about the plight of Facebook and how they are losing the teenage demographic as users of their platform, yet we don’t seem to ask “why” and we don’t seem to question their idea of decreasing the minimum age for access to the platform (or the fact that so many kids, under the “legal” age of access, are already on it).

We read about this government or that government tackling the issue of Cyber-Bullying, but not focusing, quite as much as they should, on the root problem; bullying.

We see the words “bullying” and “Cyber-Bullying” tossed about, almost becoming buzzwords, to the point where the words are becoming diluted in the stream (when a former actress and current MLA, files a report with the police, claiming that she is being Cyber-Bullied by a 17-year-old boy, you have to wonder what is happening).

My goal, in writing this book, is to try and bring some focus photo 1and understanding to the world of Bullying/Cyber-Bullying. No “in-depth” analysis of the teenage mind, with medical terminologies or treatments. It’s not to rehash stories that we have heard over and over, about children who have been pushed to the brink and then fallen over it. No, my goal is more to create a reference for kids, parents and teachers, that they can use. For parents and teachers, it will be a guide to where kids are online, what they are doing and how they can become part of the solution, by assisting kids in finding their own solutions and being aware of the warning signs. For kids, it will be a reference in how to cope and deal with what is happening, how to start a conversation with a person who can help and, most important, how they can help their peers in trouble.

In the end, I hope that it will help everyone understand that the problem isn’t cyber-bullying. The problem is communication (or the lack of it). My hope that I can create something that will get everyone on the same page in finding solutions.